If you’re looking for the next big trends in email marketing in 2022 you’ll quickly come across new technologies involving complex data analysis for hyper-personalization and tools for marketing automation.
But there’s one big trend that’s simple, powerful, and doesn’t get enough attention: using animated GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format images) in email marketing to achieve your conversion objectives from the top to the bottom of the sales funnel.
Facebook and TikTok are investing in GIFs
Just look at where leading social media companies are investing their focus (and lots of money, too). Facebook’s parent company, Meta, bought GIPHY, one of the world’s largest animated GIF-sharing platforms, in 2020, only to be ordered by UK regulators to sell it.
Recently, TikTok, the rising star social media app among adults under 30 according to Pew Research, announced a deal with GIPHY to develop a new feature on the platform.
Deals like these happen because users want to spend more time viewing and sharing GIFs and the big players know it. They see the massive potential of GIFs to increase engagement on their platforms.
GIFs are trending in email marketing
But GIFs aren’t only engaging on social media. GIFs are also trending in email marketing and the results achieved by campaigns including GIFs prove they should be part of every email marketer’s strategy.
Bluefly saw a 5% increase in click through rate and 12% increase in revenue generated by using animated GIFs in email when compared with static images.
Even more impressive, DELL saw a 12% increase in click rate and a 109% increase in revenue when they used GIFs in an email marketing campaign to launch a new product.
Let’s look at how GIFs have become more than just a fun way to interact with your audience. They can be used to gain awareness, trust, and more sales.
Do most email service providers and email clients support animated GIFs?
Yes! The great news is that all major email providers and all modern email clients support GIFs.
Just make sure that you avoid using extremely large file size GIFs in your campaign, as these may impact your email deliverability. To minimize this risk add a GIF compression step to your email campaign prep.
It's also best practice to include the most important information (such as a call to action) in the first frame of your GIF images, so that older email clients with limited GIF support, such as Microsoft Outlook 2007-2019, can still display the first frame of your GIF files as a static image. You can trim frames from a GIF using Animately (for free!).
Use GIFs to increase awareness and brand likeability
A frequent mistake brands make is to start the email marketing relationship with a customer by immediately sending commercial emails including product information, offers, and discounts. That strategy is likely to fail because people subscribe to newsletters to get useful information and they are not necessarily ready to buy.
Nurture relationships with your leads using GIFs in email marketing
According to research by Live Hive, 82% of buyers said they viewed at least five pieces of content before making a buying decision, 95% would choose a brand that has provided them with content as part of the sales process, and 68% reported a more positive sentiment after consuming content from a brand.
According to CoSchedule, 31% of people unsubscribe from newsletters because of irrelevant content, while 24% report that they would appreciate receiving more informative content from brands.
Don’t underestimate the importance of relevant, educational, fun newsletters in your email marketing strategy. They’re a great way to nurture your relationship with leads before you start selling to them.
Use GIFs to build brand awareness and trust before making a sale
Ultimately, it’s essential that you build awareness and trust before trying to make a sale. This step takes patience and creativity–and GIFs in email are here to help. Here are some ways you can use animated GIFs in email to build a stronger relationship with prospective customers.
Use an animated GIF as your email hero image
Most newsletters include a hero image at the top of the email, but many fail to use it effectively. You either see a boring logo that is never swapped for something more creative, or a stock photo related to the content, product or special occasion. All fine if you’re looking to introduce subscribers to quality ZZzzZZs.
The key to gaining attention in your emails is to surprise and delight readers with the unexpected. Because on the internet, what is expected is ignored.
GIFs have the power to surprise and delight in email
Instead of wasting your email’s prime real-estate on something readers expect, you could instead use an animated image to capture attention, highlight important information, and even make people crack a smile.
Use GIFs to make your subscribers smile
Humor creates positive sentiment and has been shown to increase awareness and even conversions.
Why not use a cute animated GIF in your welcome email to stand out from the crowd?
Use GIFs to show your expertise
Show your area of expertise with a subtle animated GIF image that draws people in and makes them curious to read more, like in this example from a SkillFactory newsletter about online courses.
You might not know the language, but the image speaks for itself.
Use GIFs to highlight key teaching moments
Convince people to read your non-fiction eBook or take your online course by using GIFographics to highlight key teaching moments from your content.
Instead of a boring stock image, use pop culture references from movies, sitcoms, cartoons, and video games to show a relatable side while communicating with your email subscribers.
Make sure your chosen GIFs match the tone of your brand
But remember: everything in moderation. And if your brand’s normal tone is serious and formal, then meme GIFs probably aren’t the right fit for your email campaigns.
Use animated GIFs in email to highlight products and features
Have you included useful, educational, relevant content in your email marketing strategy? Are you sure? Okay, let’s move on to the next step: using animated GIFs in email to show your products and their features in the possible best light.
Use GIFs instead of video to show off your product in bite-sized portions
One clever way to use GIFs in emails is as an alternative for a video to explain how a product works. There’s no button to be clicked and no action required, GIFs just play, meaning they’re much more likely to be watched than a video.
Below is an example of a GIF animation showing off a media portal service. It’s simple, quick and can be used by any app or platform. Best of all, readers can consume the content and information in this animated GIF file without having to take any action.
Turn a sequence of images into a more engaging slideshow GIF
Another simple but powerful idea is to create a GIF out of a series of pictures - basically, a slideshow, which you can include in your newsletter campaign.
Slideshow animated GIFs work because they are far more engaging than the same sequence of static images displayed one after the other. And a GIF is far more efficient in terms of space, which is a huge bonus in a world where short emails typically perform better than long ones.
Use GIFs to serve up an engaging 360° product view
Here’s another idea to use animated GIFs in email marketing to show off your products: the 360° product view.
This view recreates the experience of walking around a large object (such as a car) in real life, or rotating a smaller object in your hands. These things aren’t normally possible in the world of eCommerce, so a 360° product view is the next best thing.
These types of animations can be successfully used for a wide variety of products and services, from fashion, accessories and gadgets, to real estate and tourism. They're far more engaging than a static image of a product.
Use GIFs to eliminate boring dead-space from images
GIFs in email can be subtle and quiet, and they can also be bold. This is the kind of visual impact you can have with an animated GIF files in email marketing.
The next two companies tap into the power of one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of GIFs: the background. And their products don’t go unnoticed.
Use animation to guide email subscribers' attention through your email
Finally, if you’re sending eCommerce newsletters featuring multiple products, you can use simple touches of animation to draw attention to specific products or sales that you don’t want the reader to miss.
Use animated GIFs in newsletters to increase conversions
According to studies quoted by semgeeks, animated GIFs have been shown to increase email conversion rates by up to 103%. These impressive results demonstrate the power of including unexpected, surprising, and delightful animations in your emails.
Use GIFs to help people scan your email
People tend to scan online content rather than read every single line. If you send an offer or discount you want to make sure people actually see it. GIFs can help you make your offer stand out even when people are scanning rather than reading.
Use animated GIFs to boost the impact of your calls to action
You already know how important the call to action is in the sales process. Every email you send needs to include a clear, concise, and persuasive call to action that gets people to visit your website, download your eBook, leave a review, etc.
One surprisingly effective strategy is to use an eye-catching animation to draw attention to your call to action button, making it impossible to miss.
Or use subtle animation instead...
Or you can use a more subtle animation, like the one below. The purpose of this animation is to make the call to action stand out so that people are more likely to click it.
Use GIFs to tease the content behind a link
Here is a creative way to make people curious about your content, by teasing it directly in the call to action.
You can use animated GIFs in any email campaign to make it more engaging
You can use animated GIFs in your educational materials, eCommerce newsletters, abandoned cart emails, review requests, or any other type of email.
GIFs can draw subscribers’ attention, show urgency, demonstrate social proof, ignite curiosity, and remove objections - all essential parts of the complex machinery of getting conversions.
A few words of caution before you start using animated GIFs in your email campaigns:
Long load times are a no-no in email marketing, as people will click away faster than you can say “GIF”. You typically only have two seconds to make an impression before the average subscriber will close your email.
Check all your animated images and reduce the file size of GIFs as much as possible without compromising on quality so that your email loads faster. Some strategies you can use to reduce file size and make your GIFs load faster are: trimming GIFs to make them snappier, reducing frames, making your GIFs smaller, and cropping your GIFs.
Reducing animated GIF file sizes is especially important, because unoptimized GIFs can take a long time to load. Animately helps you play around with different GIF format compression options so that the final result loads as quickly as possible in customer email clients without sacrificing quality.
Less is more
GIFs in email are great for a lot of things, from creating a positive first impression through to helping you make a sale.
But when it comes to animated GIFs, less is more. Up to three GIFs per email is generally enough, or you’ll risk overwhelming readers with animated elements, and your email might become slow to load.
Use a few GIFs to support your call to action - then save any additional GIFs for future email campaigns.
GIFs are most effective when used to emphasize the most important aspect of your email.
Develop a consistent visual style for your GIFs
There are millions of GIFs on the internet, and on top of that, you can create GIFs in Adobe Photoshop to suit your brand.
When creating animated GIFs you should choose an aesthetic that fits with your brand, and be consistent.
A big part of growing a brand is giving your audience what they expect… in a new and surprising way. (Yes, no one said marketing was easy!)
Have you used GIFs in email marketing? If so, tell us more about your experience. What results have you seen so far? What ideas can you share? We’d love to hear them.